Friday, July 28, 2017

Transportation in Beijing

Beijing has a wide variety of transportation options, ranging from a multitude of rental bicycles, to small cars perfect for narrow hutong streets, to modern express trains across the city and country.  I marvel at a few of them.

First, the rental bicycles are everywhere in the city and used by, it appears, just about everyone. Rent the bike either at a stand or with your phone using the code on the bicycle and drop it wherever you end up.  Someone else will, no doubt, rent it from there.  And, a great price:  free for the first hour, 1 RMB ($0.15 USD) per hour after that.  It is estimated that there are 9 million bicycles in Beijing.

Rental bicycles everywhere

Bicycles are especially clustered outside metro stations, office buildings, and the Airport Express station.  Speaking of which, the Airport Express is fast, efficient, inexpensive (25 RMB or $3.70 USD), and a great way to get into town.

Airport Express train rides above the traffic

In the city, the Airport Express stops at two Metro stations and I can get anywhere in Beijing on the Metro.  With 19 lines and 345 stations, it also is extensive, efficient, and inexpensive (most trips are between $0.45 and $1.00, based on distance).  However, the subway is busy, providing about 10 million trips per day and traveling outside the rush hours does help to make for a less-packed journey.

Bejing Metro routes

Walking the streets, I really enjoy looking at the small cars that seem to fit perfectly down the narrow streets (and on larger streets also).

 Assorted small vehicles, 3-wheel and 4-wheel

Modern police car

And, of course, a few traditional modes of transportation.

 Traditional transportation (often for tourist)

All the transportation options seem to cooperate on the streets and show their patience with the well-know bad traffic in the city (bicycles are really good to get through it).

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wandering Down Qianmen Street in Beijing

Qianmen Street is a famous pedestrian street in Beijing, between Tiatan Park and Tiananmen Square, just south of the square.  The street has a history of over 570 years, through the Ming and Qing Dynasties, currently with modern shops and apartments in the style of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Walking up from Tiantan Park, I first cross over busy Zhushikou East Street on an overpass decorated with physics equations, starting with E=MC².

Physics on the footbridge

Passing over the physics, I reach the southern end of Qianmen Street and see a long, beautiful promenade, without many people (that will change as I approach Tiananmen Square).

 Looking up Qiuanmen Street

The street was completely renovated and reopened just before the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in anticipation  of the large crowds of tourists.  Including, modern fast food.

A universal symbol, worldwide

As I walk down the street, I find great decorative statues outside the stores.

 Statues on the street

And, gaze up to admire the Qing Dynasty architecture, both on Qianmen Street and on the sidestreets leading off from it.

 Great buildings!

And, emerging from Qianmen street at Tiananmen Square, I look back at the grand entrance to the street and the inviting restaurants in the first few buildings.

Entrance to Qianmen Street from Tiananmen Square

Although Qianmen Street is only 840 meters (1/2 mile) long, it packs in a lot of history, sightseeing, shopping, and dining.  Just below Tiananmen Square, it is not only a great stroll on its own, but provides a pathway to and from Tiatan Park and the Temple of Heaven.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tiatan Park in Beijing

The Temple of Heaven occupies a lot of Tiatan Park, but there is also much more to enjoy outside the temple buildings.  Forest, paths, arbors, floral beds, playgrounds, and exercise areas all occupy the non-temple areas of this 660 acre (267 hectare) park.  It's Sunday afternoon in the park and a lot is going on.

As I leave the Circular Mound Alter in the Temple of Heaven, I walk down straight paths through the forest.

 Paths through the trees

Approaching the Palace of Abstinence/Fasting Palace, the paths widen to the point where people have stretched badminton nets between the trees and are having good games.

 Wider paths, with badminton

And, at the entrance to the Fasting Palace, others are playing a game that involves keeping a puck in the air and passing it to each other by foot.

 Groups kicking the puck

After my visit to the Fasting Palace, I wander through the grounds back toward Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and find more great paths, gardens, and a sing-along.  There is a small group performing, but everyone watching seems to know the tune and sings along.

 Rose gardens

Other gardens and floral displays


 As I walk through the park, I see more great resting areas that are being fully utilized on this beautiful day.

 Resting/picnic areas in the park

And, more people expressing themselves in song and dance.

Singing for a small group

 Dancing for us all

Practicing with the sword

Everyone is just having a great Sunday in the park, visiting the temples, walking, singing, dancing, or just resting and enjoying the day.  What a great day!  But, eventually, it is time to go and I head out the west exit and turn right toward Tiananmen Square.

 Time to go